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To wit, Sartre propounds being-in-itself as the being of objects, a variety of being that conscious entities can only emulate. A chair, for example, merely is in and of itself. Conversely, conscious being—the being of humans like yourself—is defined precisely by its lack. Put simply, what rests at the heart of human experience is its capacity to perceive mental and physical objects in the world, whether these be emotions, sensations, or simply material entities. Hence, the existentialist credo that existence precedes essence. In other words, what defines our phenomenological experience is a sort of nothingness or lack of essence that makes way for the essences of the objects in the world to become perceptible, much as a vase’s emptiness might make possible the holding of water.

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